Be careful of Google search results for iPhone SMS

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Cybercriminals know how popular text messaging on iPhones is. So when Apple last week announced the release of multimedia messaging service (MMS) on newer versions of the iPhone, they quickly poisoned some Google search results that instead of bringing seekers to information about the new service brought them to sites that download malicious code.

According to a post on Websense’s security blog, search results for phrases including iPhone and SMS have returned links to malicious sites as high up as the sixth result. When clicked on, these links redirect users to the now-popular antivirus scam sites where a message says the user’s computer is infected with a virus and offers rogue or fake antivirus software, such as one program called Total Security, to solve the problem.

By now, we’ve heard quite a bit about these fake antivirus scans and programs, and often they’re lurking in the Web pages of trusted sources such as the New York Times, making us doubt ourselves for doubting them.

But if you read closely there are telltale signs that this stuff is fake; for example, a sample of a fake antivirus screen that Websense posted on its blog includes the sentence fragment “…and needed to be heal as soon as possible.” I’ve yet to see legitimate software splash messages with serious grammar issues.

Still, the scheme appears to be working, since more and more hosts for the malicious sites are appearing. Websense says the scam poisoning results for SMS on iPhones can be traced to a host that was registered just last week. The security vendor predicts the use of search-engine tactics to trick users into downloading bogus antivirus software will increase in the coming year.

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